Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Need to be A Better Man

During his press conference at the Master's on Monday, Tiger Woods looked out over the room full of media and said, "I need to be a better man."

It is something we all should say, if not every day, then at least once with sincerity.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Release the Crazies

Today, some Republicans have become what many of the South’s confederates became after their defeat in the Civil War. They, too, could not accept defeat, and the changes defeat wrought. They turned to terrorism.

Led by one of the great cavalry officers of the Confederacy, Nathan Bedford Forrest, they donned masks and terrorized the most vulnerable of Americans—the former slaves.

These people who vandalize Democratic offices today and threaten the families of congressmen and senators are no less criminal than were Bedford’s hooded Klan. Just because they are not blowing up churches and killing little black girls does not exempt their acts from being called “terrorism.” Terrorists sow fear. That is precisely what these people hope to wreak upon those who have defeated them.

So, who is leading them today?—The likes of Neugebauer who screamed “baby killer” on the House floor, and Minority Leader Boehner who declared Congressman Driehaus “ a dead man” for voting in favor of the health-care bill.

Then there is Rush Limbaugh who, the day after the health-care bill passed, told his listeners, “It is your turn to do whatever it takes to defend your freedom and your country.”

These messages are cloaked in double entendre to mask culpability, much like the Klan were cloaked in white to mask their dark intentions. Yet, they are clearly martial, these missives, designed to rally—not the entire body politic, but enough “crazies” to get at the fabric that is the bedrock of this nation’s tranquility.

These people remind us that our history with terrorism did not begin in the deserts of Arabia. It was birthed in America—nourished by the refusal of the vanquished to accept the terms of defeat.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Debt Ceiling? The Sky's the Limit

Watching the U.S. economy, with its great deficits and diminishing work ethic, is like watching a huge heavenly body on a great collision course. Because of its immense girth it appears to move so slowly as to not be moving at all. (So unlike the small Greek economy that hurtles like a comet to it impact.) We move steadily, nonetheless, and much faster than we think. It is our growing debt that powers us I this fashion.

The alternative to this rush to destiny is to tighten our belts—pay our debts and live closer to our means. But that would propose “hard work”, and we like it easy.

That is why we created a debt ceiling in the first place—to give us some “playing room.” It also exists to remind us when to stop accumulating debt, and when to start paying it down. The problem with that: We raise the ceiling regularly, and more frequently all of the time. (Debt is like that. The more you achieve, the quicker you achieve more.) Republicans raised the debt ceiling four times under Bush. Obama has raised it in his first year—from twelve to the present thirteen trillion dollars.

Trillions. We must not know what “ceilings” mean. (Ceilings exist so that things don’t go through the roof!) For us, they exist to advance the illusion of fiscal responsibility without being responsible at all.

What is debt, anyway, but a promise to pay? Yet, I get the impression that we have no intention of paying down this mountain of debt. Rather I think we will build on it some more, and build, and marvel at it because it is there.

Sure, it will be like contemplating a voyage to another star system. We might consider such a trip—play with the numbers, (the light years and such), but we are not serious; we do not truly plan to go there. We only contemplate it out of amusement—because we know it exists “out there,” in a proximity to us, however inaccessible. But we are no more serious about mounting that expedition than we are about mounting this debt.

So, why not “raise the ceiling”—make that mountain all the more insurmountable? That way, we can look at it with even greater awe, and fantasize endlessly without fear of ever having to go there and pay that terrible price.